Protect your brand and business IP with trade marking.


9th January, 2019

How to fortify your brand and your business in 5 simple steps

Don’t overlook the part your brand plays in building a business. In many cases it’s a big part of a business’ profitability, and in dynamic, fast moving industries it can be the difference between success and failure.

Imagine turning $26 into $26 billion.

The iconic Nike swoosh logo was worth exactly $26 in 1971, when founder Phil Knight paid a designer to create it. Today the value of the brand is estimated at $26 billion.

And Nike is just one of countless examples of how valuable a brand can be.

Most well-known brands build their identity around the name and logo they’ve created. The more success your business achieves, the more valuable your brand becomes.

It doesn’t hurt to look around the corner and plan for the future either – what may seem small and incidental today could be earning you serious money in the next few years.

If you’re questioning the value of brand, try this: look up the prices of different types of smartphones or TVs and compare how prices differ for essentially the same product. Does that price difference all come down to varying specs, or are you mostly paying for brand?

READ: How to register a business

Step 1 – Learn how to protect your brand

A good way to start the process is to ask yourself three questions:

    • What products or services are the key to my business? And am I a supplier of goods, a service provider, or both?
    • What steps have I taken to protect them?
    • What advantages does protecting them give me in my market?

If you’re unsure about how to approach the protection of your brand and IP, the first thing to consider is your market and intended market in terms of who your competitors are and what element of your business they might be most interested in.

For tech companies, your unique software might be most at risk, or perhaps you’re a hospitality business with a unique preparation process?

To help ward off potential copycats, you can consider creating non-disclosure agreements for your employees and perhaps even suppliers should you perceive the need to protect your ideas.

Further, think about trade marking your brand as a form of insurance policy. While you may never need to use it, you’ll soon realise its value if you do.

Step 2 – Research, even if you aren’t the researching type

Before locking down your business identity, researching what brands currently exist will save you time and money.

A simple way to do this is to type your brand into Australian Trade Mark Search and see if another business is using the same or similar branding in your market. Here’s why:

  • Using someone else’s brand, even by mistake, can open you up to costly legal action
  • If you infringe on someone else’s brand you may need to change your business name, branding and signage
  • You are more likely to submit a trade mark application that will be accepted first time

Step 3 – Think big

Your brand can become your most valuable asset, so researching other brands in the market is worth your time. However, what if your plans also include tackling overseas markets?

Here are a few things to remember:

  • An Australian trade mark to protect your brand only provides protection in Australia
  • Each overseas jurisdiction has its own IP laws, so you will need to apply for IP protection in all the markets you want to protect your brand
  • Using an attorney can sometimes be the easiest way to protect your brand in an overseas market

Step 4 – Know how to stay safe

Your business may rely on staff, independent consultants or contractors to develop your ideas.

You might assume that anything they create while being paid by you is automatically yours – but that’s not always the case.

Some ways to stay safe include:

  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Specific clauses in employee contracts (especially if they are contractors)
  • Enforcing your protected IP if you see an infringement

Step 5 – Apply

By this stage you may be ready to apply for a trade mark. This is where you’ll need to decide which application best suits you before you apply. The two options to consider are:

  1. TM Headstart process a professional assessment of your application by our examiners before you officially apply, and the chance to change or add to your application. The cost starts at $330.
  2. Standard application jump straight in and apply with no pre-application assistance from an examiner. Cost starts at $250.

For a simple 5-step guided way to protect your brand, use IP Australia’s free Upskill course.